Kid Lit Book Review – Paw Elementary: Roxy’s Adventure to the School Dentist by Katie Melko

Ever been scared to do something for the first time…especially if that thing is going to the dentist?  Heck, some adults (myself included) still get nervous going to the dentist.  That fear, and overcoming that fear, is the theme of the book, Paw Elementary: Roxy’s Adventure to the School Dentist by Katie Melko.

Overview

This book is a fun and fanciful read about a dog, Roxy, who is afraid to go to the dentist.  Her brother, Mason, does not help matters by teasing her about how awful it will be.  After worrying about it all week and trying to find excuses to skip out on the dentist, the day finally comes and Roxy finds out that there was never really anything to be afraid of in the first place.

Outstanding Points

The first thing that I noticed was that all the characters in the book had traditional “pet” names.  There was names like Roxy, Mason, Jasmine, and Harley. (No offense intended for any humans who happen to also have those names).  I thought that those names helped bridge the gap of making personification truly believable.

The illustrations were also very well done.  The book is visually pleasing with the illustrations being full and engaging without looking cluttered.  The characters are believable and expressive.

The plot is just long enough to fill the book without feeling likes it’s banal and overbearing.  I think that children will relate to each situation that Roxy is in and in turn engage with the book and story.

Discussion and Teaching Points

This book is perfect for all sorts of discussion and teaching points.

First, the message that is so obvious to adults is something that makes for good conversation points with children.  Parents/guardians who may be sending their children to school for the first time can talk about how Roxy was scared but there was really no reason to be afraid at all.  Parents/guardians who are encouraging their children to try something new can talk about how new things can be really positive if you can overcome the initial fear of things.

From a teaching standpoint, there are so many fun cross curricular  connections you can make.

In social studies, you could incorporate this book into something like Ruby Bridges.  Talk about how if we’re scared, like Roxy, of doing small things like going to the dentist, imagine how much more courage it took for her to do what she did.  Have students talk about some times in life when they’ve been scared to try something new and how those things turned out when they finally tried them.

TEETH! Lots of things have teeth!  My mind is literally exploding with all the science lessons you could teach on different animal teeth.  Talk about how each animal’s teeth coincide with their diet.  Incorporate the key words herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore.  After studying several examples, you could show just the animals’ teeth and have them first guess the animals’ diets, and then try to guess which animal each set of teeth belongs to.

Overall, I found this book to be really delightful.  I enjoyed it from start to finish.  It’S a great book for children from probably 3 until 7.

The author, Katie Melko, was kind enough to take the time to do an interview with me about her book.  Please keep reading.

Hi Katie!  First, thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview as part of the book review process.  I think that it adds so much to the book to be able to hear some of the things that the author has to say about his/her own book.  

ES – So first, let’s just talk about your book.  Tell us the story behind the story. Where, when, and how did you get the idea/inspiration for a story about a dog who is scared to go to the dentist for the first time?  I assume it probably has something to do with your profession as a dental hygienist?

KM –  Yes, so I’ve worked in public health as an RDH for 10 years, treating children in schools, churchs, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters. The inspiration for the story came from those children that I treated and seeing how scared they were. I wrote this book almost three years ago now and put it away and didn’t take it back out until September of 2017, when my dog Roxy passed away. It was then that I decided to honor her life forever by keeping her alive in pages of children’s books for all to share.

ES – How long was the writing/editing process for you?  From the day you finished the first draft to the day the book launched officially, how long?

KM – Well, from the time I took it back out after it sat for over a year. I took a little over a year from that moment to getting the first print in my hand. I had to really push myself to believe in the journey and step out of my comfort zone to do this project.

ES – What does the writing process look like for you?  Do you bring in other people in the editing process or just step away from the book for a couple days then come back and reread it with fresh eyes to see what needs tweaked?

KM – So I write the story, let it sit for a week or so, reread it and tweak. Then repeat probably two more times before sending it to an editor.

ES – One thing that I loved was that all the characters in the book had names that would be considered good “pet names.”  Roxy, Harley, Jasmine, Luna, etc. Where did those come from/

KM – All of the pet names in the book, are actual pets in my life. Roxy, Noel and Mason are my dogs. Luna is my brothers. Jasmine was my family dog growing up. Harley was my aunts dog. Astoria is my cousins cat. They all have a meaning in my real life.

ES – So, your bio says that you also founded a publishing company, 12 Paws Publishing.  Can you tell me more about that?

KM –  I started 12 Paws Publishing, LLC in December of 2018. I wanted to build a business for my self published work. The name came from my three dogs (12 paws) and the logo looks like a yellow labrador (just like my rescue pups).

ES – Can you tell me a little about the process of finding your illustrator.  Who is she? How did you find her?

KM – Roksana Oslizio is my illustrator and see lives in England! I found her on a facebook group for children’s authors and illustrators and fell in LOVE with her work!

ES – Has it been difficult working with someone who lives on a different continent?  How have you been able to work through those obstacles?

KM – It has honestly been very easy, she is super quick with responding, we communicate via facebook messenger and dropbox! She is an absolutely pleasure to work with and love her work!

ES –  From the outside, it seems as if you have about a hundred different things you do in life right now? Does that ever get exhausting/

KM – I’m very busy, yes! But I love it, and by doing so many different things, I have finally found my passion which is public health dental and creative writing!

ES – Do you ever picture yourself stepping away from the dental hygiene profession and being a full-time author?

KM – This is my big dream, I would love to do this in the future! The main reason I work so hard, I also started writing romance novels! My first one will be out soon hopefully!

ES – Your website says that there is a second book in the works.  Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

KM – Yes! Paw Elementary: Roxy’s Adventure to the Hair Salon

The book walks you through Roxy’s fear of getting her hair trimmed for the first time. She talks to her friends and family about getting her hair trimmed at Honey Bear’s birthday party and why she is just so scared!

ES – Where can people find you, your books, etc.?  Do you have a Twitter, IG, or FB page?

KM – People can purchase my book on my website www.12pawspub.com/shop and follow me on IG, Twitter, FaceBook, and Pinterest @12pawspubllc

The kindle or e-book version is also available on https://www.amazon.com/Paw-Elementary-Adventure-School-Dentist-ebook/dp/B07NFC7C43/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1_sspa?crid=2Z2LNA3TYXAXL&keywords=paw+elementary+roxy+adventure&qid=1557931790&s=gateway&sprefix=paw+elementary+rox%2Caps%2C127&sr=8-1-fkmrnull-spons&psc=1

Kid Lit Book Review – The Little Labradoodle: Puppy Pickup Day

I know it has been a while since my last post and I apologize.  It has been a very eventful but rewarding holiday season so far but one that left very little time for writing.  I am excited to share with you all a review of another children’s book and one that is top notch.  The Little Labradoodle: Puppy Pickup Day is a delightful story and it was a pleasure to read and review.

Overview

The book follows the story of Brady, the smallest labradoodle puppy in the litter, on the day that families are coming to get the puppies to take them home.  The puppies are all washed and primped and ready for pickup.  As the puppies wait for their families to arrive, they play games.  For Brady, he is too small to be able to compete with his brothers and sisters.  So he wanders off to find other ways to entertain himself.  He is a curious and somewhat mischievous little fellow and soon gets himself lost as the other doodles are picked up.  However, with some help from his friends, he is able to make it back to the house just as his family arrives.  At this point, he is beset with fear and anxiety as he worries that his family will not be able to love him since he is so small and clumsy and is now covered in dirt.  However, his fears are soon put to rest as his new family accepts him exactly how he is and gladly takes him home with them.

Outstanding Points

  • The illustrations are some of the best available.  Len Smith, the illustrator, has a resume that is simply filled with high profile work in children’s literature and entertainment.  The Little Labradoodle follows suite and does not disappoint.  Both the characters and landscapes are bright, colorful, and engaging.
  • I like rhyming books.  As a former teacher, I like that you can use them to teach word families, rhyming and vowel patterns, and phonemic awareness in general.  They rhyming in this book is good and would make teaching from it very easy.
  • The book is complete with an activity and coloring book for children and also an adult coloring book as well.  The activities are fun and engaging as are the coloring pages.
  • The plot of the book is easy to follow and unified in its style and rhythm.
  • The book has a good message.  At the end, it is not physical characteristics or capabilities that matter to the people who love you.  They love you for who you are.  That’s what matters.

Teaching Points

This book lends itself very well to several teaching points.

  • As the labradoodle puppies are picked up, the book counts down.  This would be a good way to teach subtraction and counting back while incorporating a cross curricular engaging story in math.
  • There are several characters that Brady meets along the way.  Putting them in order would be a good way to teaching sequencing using the key words like “first,” “next,” “then,” and “last” or “finally.” The teacher could even use student coloring pages from the activity book to create a large version of a sequencing chart on the wall so that the students are invested in the visual aide.
  • The labradoodle puppy doesn’t have a name until the very end when his family gets him and give him a name.  Look at the illustration of the puppy then.  Compare that to the picture of him just before.  How does the puppy feel about getting a name?  Why is it important that his family gave him a name?
  • Make a prediction.  What do you think will happen when the family gets home.  List three things they might do.  (Remember, Brady is still dirty from his adventure).

Discussion Points

  • Feeling significant/ self-worth – The labradoodle is just one of eight puppies and is the smallest and clumsiest one.  Talk about how those things don’t matter.  Discuss how the puppy still had many people in his life who loved and cared for him.  Have students list people in their lives; friends, family, teachers, etc. who love and care for them no matter what.  Use this time to help develop students’ self-worth and self-esteem.
  • Perserverance – The labradoodle had a long journey to get back to his house and meet his family.  Talk about how he had a goal of getting back and how he kept that goal in mind.
  • Cooperation/helping – The labradoodle had friends help him on the way.  List all the friends who help him in his goal of getting back to the house.  Talk about goals that a class as a whole might have and how they will have to work together to achieve those goals.

Conclusion

Overall, I found The Little Labradoodle: Puppy Pickup Day to be a very easy and enjoyable read.  As I said, the illustrations are about the best you can get, the plot is unified and engaging, and the message is positive and relevant for young people.  I highly recommend this book and the activity book and coloring pages with it.  I hope that the author meant it when she said to stay tuned for more adventures with Brady coming soon.

Where to get it

The easiest way to get the book is directly from the website, thelittlelabradoodle.com.  If you buy the book there, you get not only the book itself, but a downloadable pdf of the book, and audiobook version, and the coloring and activity book.  They have a couple of different bundles to purchase that come with a plush little labradoodle toy that would be great for a Christmas or birthday present for a child.  If you already have an Amazon account though, you can find the book there as well. Again, the author is April M. Cox.

 

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this and I hope you enjoy the book.  As always, please subscribe to the blog by clicking on the link in the right hand corner to receive an email anytime I post something new.  Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Crafting with Kids – Pinecone Christmas Ornaments

Last week, all the pine cones fell off of the trees in our backyard.  Instead of finding a way to get rid of them without burning them (apparently a huge EPA violation), I decided to use them to make homemade Christmas ornaments with the kids.  I realize that it is only November so all you fall purists out there are going to hate this, but I made Christmas ornaments this week for two reasons.  First, I wanted to use the pine cones before they went bad sitting out in the rain and snow (which will inevitably fall in about two weeks)  Second, I wanted to have a fun crafting project to do with my family.  It was a lot of fun and a lot of mess at the same time.  However, I think that the craft turned out pretty well and we are actually going to use them on our tree!  I like them a lot because they are all obviously similar but also not exactly the same like most Christmas ornaments.  These will give the tree a natural and unique type of look while still looking unified and cohesive. So, if you are going to try this at home, here is what you will need.

Pine cones (Use whichever you can find.  I have no knowledge of types of trees or anything)

Glue (We used regular Elmer’s but it was runny.  I think tacky glue would work best)

White Spray Paint

Glitter (Your choice on color or texture)

Plastic Sheet

Hot Glue Gun and Glue

Twine/Yarn/etc.

Two disposable containers big enough to lay the cones in

Step One – Spray Pain the Cones

Set the pine cones out on top of the plastic sheet and spray paint them white.  Spray one side and then turn them over to get the other side.  I sprayed from the top to the bottom as if the paint was snow falling onto the cones.  Note, I did not let my children help with this part.  If you are a teacher doing this in class, I would have the cones already spray painted as well.

Step Two – Roll the Cones in Glue

Pour about 1/4-1/2 inch of glue into the bottom of one of the containers.  Take one of the pinecones (ensuring that the paint is dry) and roll it around in the glue so all parts are coated in glue.

 

Step Three – Add Glitter

Move the pinecone to the other container and sprinkle glitter onto it so that it sticks to the glue on the cone.  It should come out looking as if the glitter, like the paint, fell like snow and stuck mostly to the outside of the cone.20181009_203119.jpg

Step Four – Make it an Ornament

Now cut about 3 inches of twine/yarn and make a loop.  Using hot glue, attach both ends of the twine/yarn to the pinecone making a loop to hang on a branch of your tree.  Now simply wait for the glue to dry and you’re all set!20181103_141637.jpg

Like I said, if I were to do this again, I would definitely make some changes like the type of glue I used.  Other than that, I think that they definitely turned out pretty well.  I hope you enjoy doing them as much as my family did.

 

As always, thank you for reading.  I hope you enjoyed the blog.  If you did and would like to receive an email update any time something new is posted, please follow the blog by clicking on the link in the lower right corner of the screen.  Happy crafting!